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Review: Summoning - Old Mornings Dawn
Old Mornings Dawn

Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2013
Duration: 64:28
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: May 10, 2013
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Old Mornings Dawn

Rated 4.02/5 (80.31%) (64 Votes)

Hard to believe it's been seven years since Summoning's last album, the masterful Oath Bound. Always mysterious and reclusive, the band has been releasing material at a slower and slower pace ever since the dramatic stylistic change of Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame in 2001. Oath Bound seemed like the sharpest refinement of their more epic approach, and I wondered if it would even be possible for them to find anywhere else to go with it. This is, after all, a band that would not be content to just release the same album over again.

Now, at last, we get Old Mornings Dawn, which moves their highly individual sound forward by deepening it. Oath Bound was the biggest of big sounding albums, while this one adds a lot of texture and a richer sense of composition than Summoning have ever expressed before. This is still the same style as the last two discs, but the harshness that was still very much a part of their sound has been reduced, producing an album that is almost soothing. The clean vocals used in a few places on Oath Bound (most memorably on "Might and Glory") are heard here more often, and integrated into the songs even more smoothly. What really opens this album out in a compositional sense is that every piece of their sound has been refined and is given its own place: drumbeats, guitars, synths, vocals - everything is given more complexity and personality this time out. Oath Bound and Mortal Heroes were both heavier, more guitar-centered works, but this time Summoning use every tool at their disposal with a surer hand. The synths, horns and flute sounds are not used as accents, but as integral parts of the songs.

The result of this more sophisticated songwriting is that Old Mornings Dawn sounds deeper, more textured, and more satisfying than previous Summoning works. I love Oath Bound without reservation, but the difference between that album and this one is like going from VHS to High-Def. There is so much more detail, so much deeper focus and nuance to the songs that it's like a whole new band. Songs like the title cut and the massive "Caradhras" are not instantly hooky like "Bauglir" or "South Away", but you can listen to them over and over and never get to the end of them, never reach a point where you have fully appreciated every shade of meaning. Some people might feel that this is a "softer" and less immediately catchy album, but it really is the culmination of everything Summoning have ever been about. A masterwork.

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